Thousands of dollars in fines for illegal abalone fisher

AN illegal abalone fisher has been fined more than $3500 after pleading guilty to being in possession of 43 abalone at Kiama Heights.

Department of Primary Industries Director Fisheries Compliance Glenn Tritton said fisheries officers were conducting a routine patrol of the Kiama Heights area in August 2012 when they observed two men packing dive gear into bags and a backpack at Love’s Bay, Kiama Heights.

“Both men were inspected by fisheries officers, and one of the men was found to be in possession of 43 abalone in a backpack,” Mr Tritton said. 

“Twenty-seven of these abalone were of a prohibited size.”

“The minimum size for abalone in NSW is 11.7cm with a maximum of two per person, and the NSW waters adjoining the Kiama area were closed to the take of abalone at this time.”

Officers seized the dive gear and the abalone, which were able to be returned to the water alive.

The 23-year-old Shellharbour man faced court late last year and was charged with possess more than the maximum quantity of fish in circumstances of aggravation, possess prohibited size fish in circumstances of aggravation and possess fish taken in contravention of a fishing closure.

He was convicted and fined $2750.

He was also instructed to pay professional costs of $990 and the seized dive gear was also forfeited to the crown.

“Abalone is listed as a priority species and possession of 10 or more is classed as a commercial quantity,” Mr Tritton said.

“Possession limits on fish are in place to ensure a fair share of fisheries resources among the community, to encourage responsible fishing, reduce the chance of overfishing and to ensure stocks remain at a suitable level for future harvest.

“Offenders caught in possession of commercial quantities of abalone, prohibited size abalone or breaching fishing closures will be caught and prosecuted before the courts.”

Anyone with information on illegal activity is encouraged to contact their local DPI Fisheries office or call the Fisher’s Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536. 

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